As a mama of three young boys, there is nothing more important to me than protecting our planet and trying to undo the damage our fast-paced, disposable lives have done.
Thankfully, after a year of turbulence – including the heart-breaking burning of the Amazon rainforest -the world is finally starting to sit up and take note. This weekend, protestors around the world took part in climate change protests, while the incredible Greta Thunberg continues to inspire more and more of us to make small changes to our lives, helping us to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Of course, we can always do more! Yet, I know only too well that it can seem overwhelming and daunting, if you don’t know where to start.
However, we have more power than you may think. If you want to start making steps towards an eco-friendly lifestyle, then here are my top ten ways on living a more sustainable life.
Buy In Season
Let’s face it, we can now buy all our favourite fruit and veg any time, any place, anywhere. Brussel sprouts in the summer, or strawberries in the height of winter everyone…?
However, one of the simplest things we can do to support the environment is to buy foods when they are actually in season! Fresh, seasonal produce doesn’t need to travel as far to reach us, which means it cuts down our carbon footprint. Eating seasonally also comes with the added bonus of supporting smaller, local businesses, too!
Happily, seasonal foods also taste far better (in fact, many studies suggest that they may even be healthier) and are cheaper, too! If you really want to go the extra mile, then why not buy from a local farmer’s market or farm shop?
While we have seen a huge rise in vegan food in the last few years (partly due to the impact that meat farming has on the environment), going vegan isn’t for everyone. However, every little step makes a difference – especially if we all take action!
I always say that we should all aim to have one meat-free day or even meal each week (Meat-Free Mondays are a great way of easing into this) and, on the other days, eat meat with our eyes wide open – think meat which has been both ethically reared and sourced.
If you feel nervous about trying vegan foods, then there are plenty of options out there and a lot of inspiration from food bloggers! One of my favourites is Lentil bolognese. The perfect comfort food, and I promise you won’t miss the meat!
Waste Not, Want Not
Terrifyingly, around 7.3 million tonnes of food goes to waste in the UK – every single year. This is a staggering waste of money, but it also harms the environment due to the amount of C02 created in landfills. Instead of tossing out your bruised or past-its-best fruit or veggies, try to use it up – I love to throw my veggies into stews or soups, while over-ripe fruit can be used in baking, crumbles or compotes at breakfast! You may also like to juice any leftover fruits and veggies. If your fruit and veg is beyond saving, add it to a composter rather than throwing it in the trash.
Conserve Energy and Water
A staggering 50% – yes, 50! – of the water we use in homes goes to waste, while many of us are also using unnecessary energy by leaving electronic devices turned on all day and night.
Aim to be more mindful of the energy and water you’re using each day – do you really need a long soak in the bath each day? Aim to turn off all electronic devices when they’re not in use, including WiFi. After all, do we really need our WiFi boxes on at 4am…?
Ditch the Car
I actually sold my car a few years back when I realised that, really, I didn’t need it. However, so many of us become dependent on our cars, to the detriment of both the environment – and our bank accounts! Wherever possible, aim to leave your car at home and take the bus, bike, train or even walk – if you can. If you really can’t leave your car in the drive, then why not car share with a friend or colleague?
Put Down the Plastic
This one goes without saying, but we all need to cut back on the amount of plastic we use – and we should be ditching single-use plastic, such as disposable cutlery and straws, for good.
While it’s not always easy (after all, plastic is everywhere), we can do this by taking re-useable bags to the supermarket (I hang mine on the front door so I remember every time I leave home).
I also try to buy unwrapped fruit and veg wherever I can (this can almost be impossible in supermarkets, so you may want to consider shopping at a greengrocers) and I have bamboo toothbrushes and combs for all the boys, too. You should also try to avoid buying bottled water – I like to carry my stainless steel water bottle with me everywhere I go – and ditch plastic straws, opting for bamboo ones instead.
Natural Skincare & Cleaning Products
Natural, cruelty-free skincare is actually one of my biggest passions! When you think about it, why would you want to slather your skin, hair and body in chemicals? After all, our skin is our biggest organ.
I’m not suggesting you run into your bathroom and bin every product that isn’t natural or organic. However, next time you’re shopping for beauty products, stop to consider what it is you’re actually buying, and always read the ingredients. If you don’t recognise an ingredient on the list, don’t buy it!
Aim to buy products that are kind to both the skin and the environment (think natural oils), cruelty-free (a no-brainer, surely?) and packaged in glass or recyclable containers. Alternatively, you could even try whipping up a face mask or moisturiser at home – yoghurt, essential oils, avocado and papaya are fantastic, beautifying ingredients to have to hand!
I have also just discovered reusable cotton pads, which I am so happy to find! I previously went through a packet of cotton pads every few weeks, so I wish I’d discovered these sooner.
Similarly, put down that chemically-laden hand soap and cleaning spray – pronto! Not only can these damage our skin when we use them, but they can also harm the environment, too. After all, how much of it gets washed down the sink…?
Although these shops aren’t accessible for everyone (I don’t have one close to me for miles), sustainable shops are becoming more and more popular and have started popping up all over the place! If you can find one close to home, then grab your reusable glass containers and fill up your cupboards – most sustainable shops stock cereal, pulses, pasta, flour and even shampoo!
This is a relatively new one for me because I am not a natural gardener. In fact, in past years, I was known for killing every plant I got my hands on. However, I have slowly developed into a crazy plant lady, and now every corner of my house has a plant nestling in it.
If you aren’t a natural gardener, then learn from my mistakes and start small – you could try growing your own herbs (I find mint is the easiest one to grow!) and then build up to growing your own fruit and veg. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m determined that next summer will be the one!
Buy Second Hand
For me, this is probably the step I need to improve on the most – one of my biggest loves has always been fashion, and I love the thrill of purchasing gorgeous new clothes. However, fast fashion is damaging our planet, and has huge ethical consequences – and we need to take responsibility for that.
When you are in a shop and tempted to buy a new skirt or shirt, ask yourself: do I really need this? Where did it come from? Has it damaged the environment, and how long will I love it for?
If you can, only buy things which you truly love and know you will wear for years to come. In other words, try not to buy into fast fashion! And, better still, shop for second-hand clothes (Depop, Etsy and eBay make this much easier to do!) or clothes which have been ethically sourced. I love the H&M Conscious Collection for this!
If you’re having a wardrobe clear-out, then make sure you resell, or give your old clothes to charity.
Some other tips…
- Buy recycled toilet paper
- Consider timing your showers. As tempting as it can seem to stand beneath a hot shower for hours, it isn’t doing our environment – or our bills, for that matter! – any good.
- Go paperless and choose to receive digital bills, receipts, newsletters and more!
- Switch-off lights and electronic devices every time you leave a room
- If you have a baby, try using a wooden teething ring or toy, and buy wooden toys for children wherever you can!
- Before you upgrade your electronic devices, consider whether or not it may be repairable. At the very least, trade it in so it can be recycled!
- Set your thermostat to a slightly lower temperature in the winter and snuggle up under blankets or chunky knits!
Do you have any top tips for a sustainable life? Please share them by commenting below – I’d love to read them!